Inspiring People

SDA candidate Desmond Lim: My teen volunteers are paid for food and transport

Singapore Democratic Alliance candidate Desmond Lim has repeated that the students who have been following him on his walkabouts are merely volunteers and are not of legal voting age.

The 43-year-old telco engineer, one of four candidates contesting the Punggol by-election, made his rounds around the constituency again on Friday morning.

Lim walked the ground at Bakau LRT station during the morning peak hour crowd before moving on to door-to-door visits of  HDB blocks around Rivervale Plaza and Rivervale Drive.

When Yahoo! Singapore joined him for his walkabout after lunch at Rivervale Plaza, the SDA candidate was accompanied by three volunteers who barely looked out of their teens.

Dressed in party colours with a green t-shirt and jeans, the trio helped to distribute flyers to residents, but didn’t engage or interact much with residents. They each carried a bag filled with party flyers and would hand them out after Lim had shaken hands with each resident.

When we approached one of the boys, he said and he and another of the volunteers had just received their O-level results and were waiting to be posted to a polytechnic. He said they started volunteering with Lim after the by-election was announced and they would continue accompanying him until his campaign ended.

They also said they were not Punggol residents and were from neighbourhood schools in other parts of Singapore.

Lim confirmed with Yahoo! that his band of volunteers, most of them students who had just completed O-levels, were given money for food and transportation, but declined to reveal how much they were paid.

“They are not voters, so please note the distinction,” he said.

Desmond Lim with his supporters on Nomination Day. (Yahoo! photo)

On Nomination Day on Wednesday, a group of over 50 student volunteers came dressed in party colours and carried SDA flags in the supporters’ area. However, they sat quietly in a corner and talked among themselves, while supporters from other parties, notably the PAP and Workers’ Party, tried to outchant and outcheer each other.

At the time, when he was asked if his supporters were too young to vote, Lim said, “These supporters are the future of Singapore”.

Lim’s walkabout took him to Rivervale Drive where he approached mostly couples with young children and adults waiting outside a nearby pre-school. Most smiled and received the brochures and handshakes.

Lim lost his election deposit of $16,500 during the General Elections  in 2011 when he earned only about 4.5 per cent of votes.

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